AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka drew several standing ovations during an electrifying speech to delegates and guests on the fourth day of the SMART Convention Aug. 14.

The former United Mineworkers’ president began his speech by addressing the merger of the former Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and the former United Transportation Union into SMART saying, “A merger like yours isn’t easy, but it has potential for tremendous, tremendous value.”

“I know how hard it is to unite a movement, how hard it is to unite a diverse membership. It’s difficult to strike the right balance. But it’s worth the effort – that’s how you achieve greater strength. The merging of cultures for greater power, for greater strength – that’s called unionism, that’s the power of unionism – plain and simple.”

Trumka said that the AFL-CIO and its affiliates plan to help more working families, through our unions to build stronger careers and a stronger future for the United States.

“The best way to fair pay, the best way to retirement security, and best way to a better tomorrow, so you can get your family a decent life and future, is through a union contract,” he asserted.

He brought the delegation to their feet when he forcefully stated, “We’re the workers of America. We build systems and we make them run. We lift the loads, and we answer the call. We wake our country up every day and we tuck her into bed every night. We won’t be turned aside, we won’t sit down, we won’t back up, and we won’t shut up. This is our country!”

Trumka said that the endless pursuit of higher profits by corporations and the wealthiest one-percent at the expense of human lives must end, using as an example railroads seeking to operate trains with one-person crews.

“We need our trains fully staffed. We’re talking about the safety of our communities, us,” he shouted, receiving a prolonged standing ovation.

“We’re talking about the lives of our workers. Shortcuts are simply too dangerous. Hundreds and thousands of us die every year because of those shortcuts.”

Trumka said that the unequal distribution of wealth did not just happen. The AFL-CIO’s new program, Common Sense Economics, tells workers how corporations and the wealthy did it to us.

“The economy is not like the weather—there are rules that decide the way it works, and the people who make the rules are the people we elect.

“When it comes to politics, you won’t find us coming together with just any candidate. We’ll work for anyone who works with us, and we won’t hesitate to hold anyone’s feet to the fire.”

Speaking about political support and the Red–Blue divide, Trumka said labor must support candidates who can say, “I can, I will, and I have done…for working people.”

“And we’re asking every candidate who seeks our support some hard questions. Tell us how you’re going to do it, before we get on board.

He asked everybody in the convention hall to get involved in the political process.

“This electoral season, be the first to knock on doors, to work a phone bank, to motivate working people. If you want all of us to get our fair share, then we need the right leaders in every corner of the United States.”

To view a video of Trumka’s complete remarks, click here.


SMART General President Joseph Nigro opened the proceedings of the First SMART General Convention Aug. 6 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a message stressing education, strength and unity.

Following the presentation of the Colors by the Palo Verde High School Junior ROTC and the singing of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems by former Sheet Metal Local 67 former bookkeeper Melina Narezo, Nigro advised delegates and guests that union leadership at all levels need to make sure they know their jobs and responsibilities.

“Let’s make sure you represent the people to the best of our ability — whether it’s planes, trains, buses or sheet metal, our leaders have to be educated; they can’t just shoot from the hip.”

After affirming that a merger between the former Sheet Metal Workers International Association and United Transportation Union was formally consolidated, Nigro acknowledged that some differences of opinion among the membership remain and encouraged discussion and debate.

“We’re going to fight some. We’re going to bleed some. But we’ll all bleed the same blood,” he said. “I’m tired of saying ‘we’ and ‘them.’ I want to feel comfortable saying ‘us.’ So, get all your animosity out.”

“We need to close the convention on Friday with one mission — that we are one union. That we are not divided, and we won’t let anything divide us. A house divided will fall. We will not go that way.”

Nigro spoke directly to all levels of union leadership — business managers, business agents, general chairpersons, and local chairpersons — when he said that service to the membership must come first.

“We will not tolerate anyone who won’t represent their members,” he said.

“You don’t have to like Joe Nigro, but you do have to like and work for your membership. Our mission is to make SMART the strongest union in North America.”

Noting the strength that can be found through SMART’s united membership, Nigro referenced a labor dispute between members of Transportation Division General Committee of Adjustment GO 505 and management of the Long Island Rail Road. GO 505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon led eight coalition unions in the dispute.

After asking for members of the delegation of GO 505 to rise, Nigro said his attendance at a labor rally there this summer was one of the most fulfilling moments of his union career.

“It was outstanding. Seeing sheet metal workers and transportation people, getting together and fighting together for the same cause — the SMART union! When I walked into that parking lot with over 3,000 people, I was so proud. Anthony, you and your boys, we’re proud as hell of you!”

Nearing the end of his address, Nigro offered his vision for the organization’s future.

“Transparency, transparency, transparency. And accountability. Our books are open to our members. We’re going to show them how we’ve spent their money. We also need to be accountable as officers for our actions and our decisions,” he said.

“Our deliberations over the next five days will give us the opportunity to move forward renewed, stronger, and united. This is our time to forge a new future with the dignity, with the integrity and the honor that built this great union. It’s all about our union . . . our members . . . our strength. Together, we are all SMART.”

In closing, Nigro advised it was time to move forward with the union’s business at hand.

“As a famous conductor once said: ALL ABOARD!”

SMART General President Joe Nigro addresses delegates and guests at the first SMART General Convention Aug. 6 in Las Vegas.


SMART_logo_041712_thumbnail At the request of SMART Transportation Division delegates, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Headquarters in Washington has made available a copy of the written proceedings of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association’s 41 General Convention.

The proceedings are available to Transportation Division delegates so that they may familiarize themselves with the likely manner in which the First SMART General Convention might progress.

To view a copy of the proceedings, click here.